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Plants & fungi

Elderflower surprise

Sambucus nigra inflorescence
Mon, 2013-06-10 14:03

While assessing the authenticity and quality of traded plant extracts during a project on ‘Quality botanical extracts for skin and health products’, funded by EPSRC and Procter & Gamble, Kew scientists were surprised to detect major chemical constituents in a commercial extract of elderflower (inflorescences of Sambucus nigra) that had not been reported in the scientific literature.

Speciation systems on Lord Howe Island

Howea belmoreana and H. forsteriana have evolved into separate species while growing together on Lord Howe Island (Image: W. Baker)
Thu, 2013-06-06 12:56

On Lord Howe Island, previous research has shown that in several distantly related plant genera speciation has taken place without any geographic isolation of populations (Papadopulos et al., 2011).

What are hard seeds for?

Hamster digging for seed in gravel
Tue, 2013-05-14 13:53

Hard seeds are prevented from germinating by a water-impermeable seed coat, and for many years this has been considered to be a dormancy mechanism. Scientists from Kew, the University of Bergen and the University of Sheffield have proposed an alternative ‘crypsis hypothesis’: that hard seeds evolved to hide from mammalian predators.

New initiative from Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank to protect UK trees takes root

Fraxinus excelsior (European ash) in Germany
Fri, 2013-05-10 00:00

The UK is unusual in that it does not have comprehensive and genetically representative ex situ collections of native tree populations for research and use in practical conservation.

Pasqueflower restoration

Anemone pulsatilla
Fri, 2013-05-03 10:04

This spring, restoration ecologists at Kew will undertake field studies in the UK to understand better the regeneration niche and pollination mechanism of the calcareous grassland rarity Anemone pulsatilla (syn. Pulsatilla vulgaris; pasqueflower). Fieldwork will take place at a species-rich chalk grassland site in the Chilterns in collaboration with the National Trust.